x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

This Will Be Difficult to Explain: Nine lives dissected

Johanna Skibsrud's novel is a collection of nine thematically related stories that dissect the life of the protagonist.

This Will Be Difficult To Explain
Johanna Skibsrud
William Heinemann
Dh111
This Will Be Difficult To Explain Johanna Skibsrud William Heinemann Dh111

Johanna Skibsrud achieved literary prominence with The Sentimentalists, her debut novel, which won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious writing award. And, very much like her previous work, This Will Be Difficult To Explain is a study of introspection where actions, both past and present, are examined under a microscopic lens.

Although not obvious at first, the nine stories that make up this collection are loosely related in theme. In each snippet a life is dissected as Skibsrud digs deep enough into her narrators' consciousness to reveal more than the mind first perceives of their innermost thoughts, but not nearly enough so as to offer a sense of completeness.

Also, the vaguely fragmented structure of each story usually confuses more than it clarifies, yet the immaculately defined nature of the writing itself sheds light on the mental wanderings of Skibsrud's ever-drifting characters.

But, rather than immediately gratify the reader with closed endings, the stories beg a cautious type of curiosity with carefully-placed clues offering the answers that are so keenly sought by her protagonists.